Sex and prostate cancer
Changes in your sex life
Prostate cancer and its treatment can affect your sex life and your mind, body and relationships. Treatment can affect:
• your ability to get an erection, ejaculate and have an orgasm
• your desire to have sex (libido)
• your ability to have children (fertility)
• how you feel about your sexuality
• how your body looks
• your relationships.
Erection problems and loss of interest in sex
As you get older, it usually gets more difficult to have and maintain an erection. Adding the effects of prostate cancer treatment, it can be even more difficult.
For some men, difficulty gaining an erection might not be a big concern for them or their partners. For others it may be very important.
You may want to try different ways to achieve a non-penetrative orgasm, either with or without a partner. It will probably take longer to reach orgasm, which means there will be more time to enjoy the pleasure of intimate body contact. Keep in mind that no matter what kind of cancer treatment you have, you will almost always be able to feel pleasure from touching.
Going through treatment and coping with the effects of changes on your hormones can have big effects on how you feel about yourself and your interest in sex.
Talking about how you are feeling
If you have a partner, talking together about how you are both feeling can be very helpful.
If you find changes in your sex life upsetting, or you (or your partner) are finding it difficult to share your feelings, it may be helpful to discuss this with your treatment team. They may be able to refer you to someone who can help.
It could be worthwhile talking to a counsellor about the changes that you (or your partner) are experiencing and the effects on your life.
There may be an erectile dysfunction service in your area. Some specialist services are available through physiotherapists, or are attached to urology private practices.
Talking to other men who have experienced changes in their sexual function due to prostate cancer can be helpful. You can contact the Cancer Society’s Cancer Connect Service by phoning 0800 CANCER (226 237) and asking them about any prostate cancer support groups in your area.
“After being impotent for 18 months, the fitting of a penile implant gave me back my confidence and brought back the intimacy to my relationship.”
Infertility and dry orgasms
Men who have treatment for prostate cancer can expect to be infertile. Talk to your treatment team about sperm banking before treatment if you wish to have children in the future.
Managing problems with erections
Oral medications and injections